An 'intelligent' fridge that tells you when its contents are going out of date with notifications sent to your smartphone has become the go-to example for describing what the Internet of Things (IoT) is, but while it provides a useful explanation it barely scratches the surface of what the technology can do.
What this means for businesses
The benefits of having multiple devices connected to the internet is clear for consumers, but for companies the possibilities are even more exciting. IT departments willing to invest in learning about the IoT will find that there is a world of big data to be explored, as information about how the devices are being used can tell professionals a lot about their customer base.
However, in order to do this, it is necessary to invest in IoT analytics software. Data is often collected from dozens of different devices, many of which are completely different in terms of their purpose and what they record.
The rise of IoT analytics is a lot different from traditional analytics. Not only is all information gathered in real time, it is also a lot more complex as it generally comes from multiple sources. Jim Hare, a research director at Gartner, points out that there is a need to match this with new solutions.
Just as we’re seeing a lot more complexity in the data, we’re seeing more complexity in how to manage that data
However, most IoT solutions will be automated, making them relatively easy to manage after setup.
With Gartner predicting that 20.8 billion devices will be connected to the IoT by 2020, it is vital that analytics systems are put in place before the amount of data becomes unmanageable.
Joe DeCosmo, chief analytics officer at Enova International Inc., told TechTarget that IoT data on its own is not worth much, as it is too difficult to make sense of. The information alone creates potential for many different tactics, but Mr DeCosmo said:
The data combined with the analytics makes those addressable opportunities.
So, what kind of opportunities are we talking about?
One example comes from New Zealand, where Auckland Transport - which manages all public and private transport across six regions of the country - bought in an analytics system to manage the terabytes of data coming from their IoT devices every day.
The end result was a vastly improved knowledge of customer demographics, among other things. Roger Jones, Auckland Transport's CTO, told Briefings Direct that on public transport,
for the first time, we understand where people are travelling to and from, the times of day they’re traveling, and to a certain extent, the demographics of those travelers.